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Commissioners Announce Historic New Affordable Housing Initiative

Friday, August 23, 2019
Contact: Tyler Lowry, Commissioners, 614-525-6630

On Tuesday, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a plan to invest approximately $65 million over the next ten years in affordable housing in Central Ohio to create more than 2,000 new affordable housing units.  The initiative plan was created earlier this year at the commissioners’ request by the county Economic Development and Planning department as part of that agency’s new five-year strategic plan, and the vote comes after three public hearings on the matter.  Funding for the initiative will be through the real estate conveyance fee, which the commissioners voted to increase by one dollar for every $1,000 in sale amounts.

“Franklin County is thriving, and growing at an unprecedented rate,” said Board of Commissioners President Marilyn Brown.  “But we know that our community is not really successful unless everyone has the opportunity to succeed, and that includes having a decent, safe place to live near public transportation, resources, and places to work.”

The Central Ohio economy has grown faster in the past ten years than during any other decade in its history, and approximately 200,000 new residents have come to call our region home in that time.  With this growth, come challenges, including a lack of enough affordable places for everyone to live, and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission estimates that as many as one million new residents will move to Central Ohio in the next 30 years.

Franklin County currently spends nearly $17 million on affordable housing each year, including $5 million annually with the Community Shelter Board and $3.4 million with the Affordable Housing Trust.  The new initiative includes $4.125 million for a County Housing Magnet Fund to help fund affordable housing development near employment centers and public transportation, and $2.375 million to the new Central Ohio Community Land Trust, which will be used to acquire and hold land in developing areas to ensure that its housing remains affordable for the long-term.  In all, the approximately $6.5 million annual investment is expected result in 205 new affordable housing units each year.

“Affordable housing has been one of the greatest challenges facing our community for some time,” said Commissioner John O’Grady.  “And what we hear from the leadership of other communities who have been facing this challenge is that they wish they had begun working on it a long time ago.  We have been working on it, and it’s important that we keep investing in our community in this way.”

The real estate conveyance fee is paid by people who are selling property, and includes a state-mandated amount of one dollar per $1,000 in sales price.  Franklin County charges an additional dollar, and that money already goes to affordable housing efforts.  Yesterday’s vote will increase the fee by an additional dollar to fund the new initiatives.

“Housing takes up a large portion of people’s income, and where a family lives has a direct impact on how easily they can begin to climb the economic ladder,” said Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce.  “It is essential that the people who work in our community are able to live in our community, and a lack of affordable housing was highlighted in our recent poverty blueprint as a significant barrier for struggling families.”

In June, the commissioners unveiled a strategic poverty strategy that identified 120 goals and action steps to begin to address poverty more effectively, including ensuring sufficient affordable housing for all families.  That plan can be found at franklincountyohio.gov/poverty, and the full set of affordable housing recommendations are available at development.franklincountyohio.gov/edsp.  The change in the conveyance fee will take effect October 7th.  

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